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A Vindication of Love: Reclaiming Romance for the Twenty-first Century Hardcover – Bargain Price, June 16, 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
Her project is nothing less than to reinvent romantic love for the early 21st century, when we are often diverted by gender and power issues and a sense of triumphalism that sees marriage as the ultimate and only measure of success. (Not for a moment does she discount that wondrous outcome for many, however.)
It appears that Nehring's wellspring for her study may have come from her insight that "the more intelligent [women] are, the more ironical and distant [they] must be" to love's calling, its demands, its challenges. Au contraire, insists this American writer living in Paris: intelligent women are "excited by men."
For some of us, her chapter on "Love As Failure" may offer deep consolation over lives where love did not "succeed." She draws on the stories of Heloise and Abelard, Goethe's "Sorrows of Young Werther," and Ralph Waldo Emerson's love for Margaret Fuller. Each had its "brush with the sublime," she insists. Each partook of the "heroic and transcendent" nature of love, which we have lost and which she wants to "make honorable" again.
If you believe, or once did, that love held out a hope worthy of life itself, this book vindicates your belief. Argue against that proposition, if you will--but enjoy an inspiring argument, based in rich scholarship, and
presented in prose that doesn't miss a beat or a line.
This wonderfully learned, wonderfully exuberant defense of love looks simultaneously at how we live in the contemporary world and how great lovers have behaved in the past. Sadly, for all our freedom of choice and opportunity, we moderns finish a distant second (or fourth, or fifth) place. Taking on the received wisdom of the decades following the sexual and feminist revolutions of the 60s, Nehring draws from her deep reading of the classics to argue for the qualities usually seen as threats to a desirable relationship: inequality, transgression, long distance, aggression, among others. Although all this stuff mother warned you about can easily turn a couple into wrecks like Sid and Nancy rather than the idealized lovers Nehring lingers on, we forget at our peril how human nature craves risk and obstacle to confront and overcome.
In its humanity and range of reference--Nehring is equally at home among the writers of antiquity, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the modern periods--this book reminds me of Ocavio Paz's splendid The Double Flame: Love and Eroticism, on the same subject. But where Paz's book reflects on love after a long lifetime of experience, Nehring's plunges in with the spirit of youth and an appetite for more life, more experience. Although one does occasionally wish for a more vigilant editor--figures such as "the famous French novelist of the nineteenth century, Stendhal" and "the Greek philosopher, Plato" stumble into the book before finding surer footing in Nehring's larger arguments--the author's deep, personal engagement with her material makes this volume a compelling read.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A fresh and delightful journey through historical, philosophy, and sociological vignettes of human relations, written by somebody who herself was clearly inspired in the best way... Read morePublished on September 7, 2013 by Quinn
This book offers some very compelling arguements about love throughout the ages and is a great academic source to find out what to read if you want to know more about great love... Read morePublished on August 17, 2009 by Stacye J. Cline
I couldn't put down this book. It was like reading some of my own thoughts about love, friendship and romance beatifully expressed and deeply developed. Read morePublished on August 5, 2009 by MIBU
One of the more frustrating books I've read in awhile; yet I managed to devour it in 2 sittings. Go figure. Read morePublished on August 3, 2009 by William Gianopulos
I first heard Cristina Nehring discussing her subject on public radio. She was so passionate and clueless about the usual talk show bromides and how to sell herself that I... Read morePublished on July 17, 2009 by Helen Epstein
There simply are no words that can explain the salve her book brings to those who live like glowing Roman Candles, be it in love or elsewhere in life. Read morePublished on July 5, 2009 by S. Erlandson